Democratic members of the Senate have been fighting this entire session to ensure protections for all Hoosiers, including our minority communities and vulnerable populations. Here are some bills that would have a direct, positive impact on the Latinx community:
State Senator David Niezgodki (D-South Bend) authored Senate Bill (SB) 138 to allow undocumented immigrant students living in Indiana to pay resident tuition rates. Indiana is one of only three states in the country that specifically makes these students pay the more expensive out-of-state tuition rate, despite them living in Indiana for most of their lives. In addition, Senator J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) also joined Sen. Niezgodski in addressing this issue by authoring SB 335 a similar bill ensuring that students would not have to prove their citizenship status.
It’s no secret that strict voter laws have exacerbated the voting turnout gap between races. A University of California San Diego study found that the gap in election turnout rates and between White and Latinx citizens has doubled in recent years. Senate Democrats know it is important to make it easier to vote in Indiana. State Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) authored SB 32 to allow same day voter registration to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard during an election, without the added burden of strict time constraints. Sen. J.D. Ford also authored SB 349, which is a similar piece of legislation that would have automatically registered voters in the state of Indiana when they received their driver’s licenses.
Driver’s license for undocumented residents
Sen. Niezgodski authored SB 511 to allow undocumented Hoosiers the opportunity to obtain a driving card without having to prove their identity or lawful status. This would have lowered the amount of unlicensed drivers and ensured that immigrants have access to transportation to get to work and take care of their families. Currently, 12 other states and the District of Columbia allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) authored SB 440 to assist families with children who are struggling to provide for their children’s basic needs by expanding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This piece of legislation would have also made necessary adjustments to modernize the program and ensure that the correct data was being collected to improve the program. With the Hispanic poverty rate more than double that of the non-Hispanic White poverty rate, it is important that the state government expands efforts to assist Hispanic families struggling to make ends meet.
According to the Indiana Institute for Working Families, Indiana currently has the 3rd highest percentage of minority families working in low-income positions. To address this issue, State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) authored SB 214 to increase Indiana’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $11.12 an hour. This increase would have ensured that all Hoosiers were making an equal living wage regardless of race or gender biases.
The Indiana Senate Democrats are committed to furthering the rights of all Hoosier citizens and we will continue to ensure that our state’s Hispanic community is always represented at the Statehouse.